At the San Diego Comic Con this last weekend, the creators of Steven Universe — Cartoon Network’s progressive and queer-friendly sci-fi cartoon — announced that an upcoming episode will feature Jinkx Monsoon, the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 5, voicing a villainous Crystal Gem named Emerald, one of show’s many jewel-powered aliens fighting an intergalactic war,
Monsoon makes a great choice to join the LGBTQ-friendly children’s series, not just because they’re a fiercely talented queer performer but also because they recently came out as non-binary (that is, a gender identity that is not exclusively masculine or feminine but rather outside of the cisgender male-female binary).
Monsoon’s non-binary identity fits well since almost all of the the Crystal Gems in the show are agender (that is, they have no gender or are gender neutral), even though they all can come off as femme-presenting.
Here’s a clip of Jinkx Monsoon voicing Emerald in Steven Universe:
Some commenters in the Steven Universe fandom, which is notoriously protective of the show’s racial and gender representations, complained about Monsoon’s casting, allegedly claiming that, as a drag queen, they are a transphobic “man in a dress.” Hamish Steele, an animation director who has worked with Steven Universe in the past, explained on Twitter that Monsoon is not actually cisgender, but is actually a trans person.
The Steven Universe fandom coming for Jinx Monsoon now because she's voicing a gem. Gotta love people crying transphobia at a trans person..
— ? Hamish Steele ? (@hamishsteele) July 24, 2017
Monsoon explains their own gender
Monsoon might’ve gotten word of the non-troversy because they subsequently came out as non-gendered/non-binary in a series of tweets yesterday afternoon. In the tweets, they said:
“Because this apparently needs to be repeated … I am male bodied, I prefer to identify as non-gendered/non-binary. I prefer They/Them. I came out as NB/non-gendered almost four years ago. I have privately identified under the Trans umbrella since my teens.
In drag, I prefer She/Her, and frankly, she/her always works for me. My future is female.
For a long time, I didn’t think I needed to make my gender identity public info until I saw that I could be an advocate for our community. I spoke out on a trans matter four years back, and someone encouraged me to come out, in an effort to enlighten. I did and I’m glad I did.
To be a drag queen does not automatically mean that one is a cis-male out of drag. Plenty of queens live under the Trans umbrella. I enjoy being called She/Her while in Drag. Frankly, amongst queens, we kinda always call each other She/Her- so I’m always down with that.
Sorry for the rant. I’ve seen a lot of arguments over this topic and I thought I’d throw my two cents in. I’ve seen some discussions online about my being non-binary, and inevitably someone will respond with “no, he’s a drag queen.” The two are NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE.”
As a gender non-binary person, Monsoon walks gracefully under the transgender umbrella and is actually the eighth queen from RuPaul’s Drag Race to identify as trans.
Update: A reader named Daniel Beltran pointed out that Monsoon posted a video on June 16, 2015 (below) telling Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar that they wanted to voice a Crystal Gem. It only took two years, but Monsoon got their wish!